Jacob Wetterling Files to be Released June 5

May 22, 2017 11:23 PM

The Stearns County Sheriff's Office is planning to make the documents relating to the Jacob Wetterling case public on Monday, June 5.

For nearly seven months, five days a week, 10 hours a day, investigators were in the "Wetterling Room" at the Stearns County Sheriff's Office, combing through paperwork associated with the case.

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There were more than 36,000 pages of police reports over 27 years. There were tens of thousands more in lead sheets, which included any potential lead called in since Jacob was abducted in 1989.

Officials spent months scouring each page, removing any private information that state law protects.

The investigation will be accessible on the Stearns County website starting at 11 a.m., and the documents will be available to download or view. 

Wetterling was abducted by a masked gunman on Oct. 22, 1989, and his death remained a mystery for years. In October 2016, Daniel Heinrich was named a person of interest in the disappearance. He later led investigators to Jacob's remains and admitted to kidnapping, sexually assaulting and killing Jacob.

Heinrich is in federal prison in Oklahoma. 

Stacie Christensen, Director of the Information Policy Analysis Division at the Minnesota Department of Administration, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the release of investigative files, even though that process can be painful for families of victims, is necessary in an open government system.

"Everything in the Wetterling file will be public except for a few things such as the names of victims and witnesses, and this is important to allow the public to review the case, if anyone so chooses, to make sure police, investigators, prosecutors and the courts did their jobs ethically and within the law," Christensen said.

Christensen said a large file, such as Wetterling's, may have the potential to produce names and information of people who might find it embarrassing.

"I have not seen the Wetterling file, so I do not know for certain, but there are instances when the names of people who were considered persons of interest, or even suspects but were eventually cleared, show up in a report, and those individuals find it troubling," Christensen said.

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